(CBS) — Neighbors of an 85-year-old West Side woman are coming to her defense after she fell victim to an alleged predatory lending scheme and faces eviction.
Alice Polk has lived in the same home on the 5200 block of West Gladys for 49 years.
She was surrounded by neighbors and activists with the South Austin Coalition on her front porch today when a bank representative showed up to measure the windows and doors for a board-up crew.
He said, “sorry, I’m just doing my job.”
Mrs. Polk told us, “I’ve been in my home for so long,” before breaking down. She said, “This is all I got and I want to stay in my home.”
Activist Theresa Welch Davis says Polk was victimized by Mark Diamond, a Chicago man who has been sued by the attorney general and a number of homeowners for alleged re-financing schemes targeting elderly black residents of the west and south sides.
Davis said, “He sent someone out into the community to identify senior citizens sitting on their homes in need of repairs. She then in turn said, ‘you remind me of my grandmother,’ and that’s what lured her in,” Davis said.
Polk was convinced to get a reverse mortgage, Davis said, and was told she didn’t need to pay property taxes or insurance. Her home ended up in foreclosure.
One long-time neighbor, Arnold Bearden, says he and others will stand in the way of Sheriff’s deputies if or when they come to evict her.
“I’m prepared to go to jail for Mrs. Polk,” he said.
The South Austin Coalition brought in a law professor from John Marshall Law School to attempt to help Mrs. Polk. He was at her home for a meeting today but was unable to say whether he’d be able to get her out of the mess.
Mrs. Polk, when asked what she’d like to say to the man who she says put her in this situation, said, “god bless him.”
A representative of the bank was unavailable until Monday.
We have been unable to reach Mark Diamond.